If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.


Creative Book Projects by 6th Graders

My sixth grade class just finished reading The Night of the Burning by Linda Press Wulf.  The students were given the following options to choose from for a culminating activity:

  • write a new ending
  • make a book trailer
  • compare Devorah and Nechama to two other characters in other novels
  • create a song, parody, or poem about the novel

I must say that the students truly went above and beyond on this assignment.  Take a look at what they created.

By: Gil S

By: Zoe M

This is a poem that I composed on The Night of the Burning:

Devorah is an orphan.

She is twelve years old.

She has survived many things.

If you ask, this is what you will be told:


I lived in Domachevo.

A small village in Poland.

There were many Jews there,

But also Christians even so.


Papa would trade with them.

Every early morn’.

So when he got back at night,

He would be tired and worn.


However, our happiness wasn’t meant to last.

Because papa died.

We almost had to fast,

And often cried.


Mama was so upset,

And she died too.

So Aunt Friedka moved in,

And was with us through and through.


One horrible day,

There was a pogrom.

All the Jews were murdered,

Even those who stayed calm.


We got to the orphanage,

In a different city,

And Nechama was often told,,

That she was very pretty.


One day, there was a special visitor,

Who offered to take,

Us to a place that was not similar.

It was called South Africa,

And Nechama wanted to go,

So I agreed too,

But I hoped it would be a better place,

Because I was a Jew.


I had once sworn,

I would never leave Nechama’s side,

So we stayed together,

And went along for the ride


We both got adopted,

By a separate family.

And although I was scared at first,

In the end, I settled in happily.

By: Jamie B.

Here is my song (To the tune of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” in Disney’s new movie, Frozen)


(Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock)


Do you wanna see this book?

I’ve been reading all day!

I never see you anymore

Just call me up,

I’m not too far away-

We used to be best buddies

but we were separated

Adopted, but tell me why!-

The night of the burning,

The night of the burning,

Everything’s gone



Mama and papa died from typhoid

Aunt and Uncle died from war.

I think I need you more than you need me,

you’ve stopped saying the shemah!

It gets a little lonely

Being in my room,

Longing for just that time-

(Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock)



Mrs. Kagan?

You have definitely helped me,

I’m sorry for the stress

Daddy Ochberg told me to love you,

and to try to forget

I know I never will,

My sister forgot us,

from before the war

But I have a question for youuuuu?

Can I… call you mummy?”


Here is a poem I wrote about The Night of the Burning. Itamar L

In the dawns last light,

Devorah cried through the night.

When a strange man came,

To try to stop her pain.


Ochberg offered a new life,

away from the strife.

Her sister accepted so what could she do,

She promised her parents to protect Nechama through and through.


Nechama was the last of the last,

The only good thing that came from her past.

So she decided to go,

With a lot of doubts though.

When the flashbacks began,

She tried to take her stand.


But the flashbacks became harder to control and to fight,

Let me tell you a few from her past,

Let’s see if what the things people did her were right.

T’was a warm spring night,

Devorah was hiding trying to stay out of sight.


It was Easter and her parents were scared,

That the Christians would kill them.

Would they be spared?


Indeed they had their wish,

but the rest of their lives were not served on a dish.

First Uncle Pinchas was taken away,

To fight the army.

Though he did not wish to stay.


One night he came home,

he walked alone.

For he was so sick,

even the army was afraid of it.


Soon after he died,

In his small little bed.

A doctor did not come,

in his place was Aunt Friedka.

And so Pinchas died before his time had come.

The next person to die was poor dear Papa,

The Influenza killed him like prey for a cobra.

With very little money left Auntie moved in,

To help out the family and stay with her kin.


Mama grew sick fast,

Raving and ranting all the time about her past.

Typhoid had taken her,

And it would soon break her.


Alone Devorah sat by her dying mama

When she promised her mother to protect Nechama.

And then there was only three in their small little house,

Between Devorah, Nechama, and great Auntie too.

The house seemed as quiet as a mouse,


With bad luck in the air,

They were caught in despair.

One night someone came through their place,

“Pogroms, Cossaks,” came the frightful yell.

“Runaway, just in case,”


But the family stayed afraid of the hell,

that had been unleashed outside.

Nay, they would not stay,

So they took up a stride.

But what could they do, so they started to pray,


The answer then came in the shape of a barn,

They ran to it, and hid inside,

A soldier was coming, oh darn.

Aunt Friedka was stabbed and very soon died,

The children huddled up close in a corner.

Devorah was officially a mourner,

Morning soon came.

They walked slowly out of the barn as though the were lame.

A good christian woman came to help,

And sent them off to the orphanage.

Without a cry or whelp,

Devorah felt like a bag, a luggage in storage.

So that’s where we are in the story,

Nechama and Devorah are going to Africa.

With many a worry.

Soon after they left,

They arrived in Warsaw.

There they stayed to gather the rest,

While Devorah she had nothing interesting she saw.

After that they arrived in London,

By now Devorah and Nechama are no longer shrunken.

There they took a ship across the sea,

And they were finally free.

Soon they were both adopted,

Devorah opted.

That Nechama stay with her,

But there journey was finally done,

There purpose together was at this point, none.

Jolie’s post

Zachary’s post

Benjamin’s post



Promising Poets

Cross posted on my class blog.

The 6th graders have been working on a poetry unit.  We started off our unit discussing what the word “poetry” means.  We spent some time learning different types of figurative language.  Each student created a short tutorial to teach the class a different type of figurative language.

This was one example:

Fwd_ Alliteration - stephanie.teitelbaum@mjgds.org - Martin J. Gottlieb Day School Mail

We discussed alliteration, assonanceconsonancehyperbolesmetaphors, similesonomatopoeiasymbolism, and personification. Once the students each taught their classmates these terms, they split off into groups and analyzed various poems by some well-known poets.  They had to find examples of each type of figurative language.  Some poems were quite difficult to analyze, but nonetheless, we were able to find an example of each term.

Following our figurative language activity, each student randomly chose a famous poet to research. The students had to find out information about his/her assigned poet, what types of poetry he/she wrote about, and choose one of their poet’s poems that they found interesting. Finally, each student had to choose one poem to memorize and recite to the class. Last week, during our “Poetry Read Aloud” we all enjoyed hot chocolate, tea, and donuts while listening to classical music in our dimly lit classroom. We listened to the students recite their poetry and discuss why they chose the poem and how it made an impact on each of them. It was a great experience for all of us.

benjamin poem

These were the poets they researched:

Emily Dickinson-Itamar 

E.E. Cummings-Rebecca

Walt Whitman~Gil 

Langston Hughes-Jolie 

Lewis Carroll-Benjamin 

Edgar Allen Poe-Zachary 

William Wordsworth-Zoe 

W. B. Yeats-Jamie 

T. S. Eliot-Elior 

photo 5

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Great things are happening….

This week, my 5th graders taught a lesson (as a group) to the 3rd graders on how to write a Quality Comment.

Then, the 5th graders paired with the 3rd graders to help them use the skills they were taught to write quality comments on the 4th graders’ blogs.  Each 5th grader worked with 1-2 3rd graders, and the results were quite impressive.  I was amazed with the patience, enthusiasm, and true knowledge of the content they each shared with the 3rd graders.  Here is an example of one of their comments:

Dear Zach,

That was a cool video. I like reading. Now I like baseball. Was that video made because you like
baseball? And why do you like baseball? What are your favorite baseball teams?

Thank you,

Here is an example of a typical 5th grader’s comment:

Dear Julia,

I totally agree that you do have an awesome blog! I love the theme of your blog because it has warm, bright, and cheerful colors. My blog is a bright shade of green, with sparkles, and a butterfly. For the text at the top I wrote, “Make Fantasies Become A Reality”. I love this blog, and what you write about.

Just like you, I as well have an after school activity. I do dance with you, and I do volleyball. I used to do running and swimming, but this summer I am planning on running with my dad at night. Are you going to run with your mom or dad over the summer?

I as well like blue, but I also like black, white, green, yellow, and purple. In Jewish Studies, we are studying the colors of flags. Each individual flag has a color for a reason, which is what my class and I are trying to figure out. Anyways, I like blue because it means freedom and justice. I adore the color white because it means peace, and I think that there should be peace everywhere. I admire the color green because it symbolizes Earth and nature, and I love to interact, study, and learn about nature. I love the color yellow because I feel like it stands for doing the right thing, such as being honest, and I am very good at doing the right thing. I admire the color purple because to me, it seems neutral. In other words, if there is an argument, I would be neutral, I would try to fix the problem instead of siding with one person. Just to summarize, no favorites. Last, but certainly not least, black. Black might seem like a sad and dull color, but to me, it represents determination and courage. Why are your favorite color pink and blue?

I also think that blogging is important because I get to express myself. I get to tell the world about what I am doing, learning, and so much more! I love writing because I can be creative, and that is part of the reason why I like blogging.

I love how you love working on the iPads because that is one little jump towards 21st century. I have my own iPad Mini and an iPod touch. What to you have?

Again, I love your blog, I now know a lot about you, and I hope that we can continue to communicate.

We also started to discuss our next phase of our poetry book that we have been working on.  The students came up with so many questions.

  • When will we publish it?
  • What will we charge?
  • Will we do an e-book, a paperback, or both?
  • Who will our audience be?
  • How will we market it?

So many questions, and so much to do…The students developed a list of jobs (with my guidance) that would be needed to begin to answer these questions.  Once the job list was complete, they had to determine what job would best suit each of them.  Each student developed a resume and applied for one of the positions.  I was thrilled to see that they each applied for positions, which really emphasized their strengths.  Based on the individual resumes, we ended up hiring a VP of Finance,  two students to be the VP’s of Marketing, a VP of Design, an editor, a publishing liaison, a VP of Public Relations, and a VP of Business.  They all have a list of their job descriptions and they will be reporting directly to Mike Fisher and myself on a weekly basis.  This project will continue into next year.  The 4th graders will also be choosing the areas that they feel suit each of them, so they can be on a collaborative team with the 5th graders.


My fourth graders began to work on our final research paper this week.  They each chose an important person to research from Florida’s history.  Mrs.Hallett, our 21st Century librarian,  helped them determine the proper search engine to use.  They had to find 2-3 websites to obtain the necessary information listed on the graphic organizer that was provided for them. Next, I taught them a lesson on proper note-taking techniques.  Finally, they took notes to use on their essays.  We will be writing the papers this week, and then Mrs.Hallett will be guiding us in creating a thinglink. I look forward to sharing the finished product in a couple of weeks (hopefully).


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There Once Was A…

We learned a new type of poetry last week, limericks.  The 4th & 5th graders each wrote some of their own.  Here are a few of their examples.

There Was Once a Poem Named Limerick…

Have you guys heard of a Limerick poem? Well, a Limerick poem is a five lined poem that rhymes. FINALLY, a poem that rhymes. Limericks were made famous by Edward Lear, a famous author who wrote The Book of Nonsense in the 1800′s. The entire book was about silly Limericks. Limericks are English, not Irish but there is a county in Ireland and there are fun little poems children could write.


This is how you write a Limerick poem:

The first, second and fifth lines rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables (typically 8 or 9).  The third and fourth lines rhyme with each other and have the same number of syllables (typically 5 or 6). Limericks often start with the line “There once was a…” or “There was a…” The rhyme scheme is usually “A-A-B-B-A.” They usually start off with a noun. Here is an example of a Limerick poem that I made:

There once was a boy named Ben

Who sat in his den with a pen

He plays this video game

That is very lame

The game he plays is called Ben Ten

Here is another one that I came up with.

There once was a man named Murray

Who was always eating curry

He ate one that was hot

Right out of the pot

He was in a really big hurry

I think Limerick poems are very interesting to write about. Now here is a question for you. Have you ever written a Limerick poem? Please tell me in the comments below.

Spoiled Elior

Posted by  on February 21, 2013

I am learning about limericks in class. Limericks are very fun to write. This is how you write a limerick. There is a certain rhythm to a limerick. This is how it goes.

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

da DUM da da DUM

da da DUM da da DUM

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

See how there is a rhythm to that. That is how all limericks should sound. In class, I wrote a limerick. This is how it goes.

There was a boy named Elior.

He felt that his family was poor. 

He asked for a nook,

but they gave him a book,

so he got very mad and he swore.

That also does sound like a thing I might do. Now that you know about limericks, you can try one yourself. Try one yourself.anger,angry,boys,changing expressions,children,emotions,gritting teeth,kids,mad,males,people,persons,web animations,web elements


Laugh Out Loud Limerick Poems by : Zoe M

In class we have started writing Limerick poems. Limerick poems are usually humorous or nonsense poems. All Limerick poems have five lines. Lines one, two, and five have to rhyme. Lines three and four have to rhyme. I wrote three different Limericks. They are about some of my favorite things: reading, playing soccer (football), and shopping.

Here are my poems:

I play soccersoccer

One of my teammates is a big talker                                             

She is also very good

And score a goal she could

Even though a blocker tried to stop’er

One day I was given a seedbook

But instead, I decided to read

And read I did

But then I hid

Because I had done a bad deed

As I was running down the hallshopping

I was told we were going to a mall

So I went to shop

And got this gorgeous top

Which I wore until I got too tall

Have you ever written a Limerick poem before? If so, what was it about?

Image Credits: Microsoft Clip Art

Cool, a Limerick

Posted on February 15, 2013 by 

limerick is a form of poetry that no one’s sure where it comes from. Some people think that limericks come from the county in Ireland known as Limerick.There are 5 lines in a limerick.  Lines 1,2, and 5 rhyme.  Lines 3 and 4 also rhyme.  Limericks are generally funny.  Check out the limerick I made at www.piclits.com.  Have you ever created a limerick?

PicLits.com - Create a PicLit

Time For Dog With A Blog

Posted on February 15, 2013 by jeremyz

I just learned about what a limerick is.  It is a 5 line thing that has to rhyme like this.  First line and second line rhymes third and fourth rhyme and the fifth line rhymes with the first one and the second one.  This is the one I made.

There was a dog

That started his own blog.

He wrote about a hat

That lived above a mat.

Then he met a frog.

Before this did you know what a limerick is?  Have you ever made one?  If not I also hope you make one.

myunclesbabydog.jpg - Isn't this puppy cute!!!!!


Limerick, Limerick Go Go Limerick

There wants was a hobo

Whose name was Pagogo

He was very weird

And had a long beard

He would love to meet the GoGo’s

This is a limerick! We are learning about limericks in class!  A limerick has 5 lines!  The 1st 2 lines rhyme with the 5th line and the 3rd and the 4th lines rhyme! If you have any questions about a limerick comment on my blog !! :)  Hope you enjoy my limerick!

Hobo #10 -- _Whispering Lies_ MacGruder | Flickr - Photo Sharing!




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Blogging, Tweeting, and Skyping OH MY!

Reflection written by: Jeremy Z and Griff W

This month, our fourth grade class had a skype call with a well known teacher and recent poet, Mike Fisher. This is a great opportunity for us because each of us was given one of his poems to illustrate for an e-book, and we all had questions to ask him like, “Why is the poem O in an O shape?” The answer was that one of his high school teachers gave him the suggestion.

Michael Fisher | edJEWcon

We learned that he lives in Buffalo, New York, and he is inspired by children. He now writes daily, after starting to  write poems at age five. Currently, he is writing a mystery novel for young adults. Strangely, Mike Fisher (@Fisher 1000 on Twitter) had a habit of biting his nails, and still does, which was the topic of another one of his poems. He will be opening the poem book with the poem called Going In; so the readers will not know WHAT they are going into. The Hair poem he wrote was inspired by a movie which compared static hair to mall hair. He explained that it was like taking off your jacket and your hair goes flying. He was inspired to write the poem about Monsters being in places because he thought there might be monsters under the bed when he was a kid. He is annoyed when signs tell him what not to do so he wrote the poem about Signs. It was quite informative to learn the origins of his poetry. It also helped understanding the meanings so we could illustrate the poems more effectively.

We are all excited to be helping write and illustrate a poem for Mike Fisher’s e-book.  We are looking forward to putting our names in the book, and we are excited to be helping a well known poet write an e-book. Our class knows that this is only the BEGINNING of a long, beneficial, and hopefully profitable, learning experience. You can read more about our Skype call with Mike Fisher on Silvia Tolisano’s blog.

Learning in the Modern Classroom | Langwitches BlogReflection written by: Ayden I

Recently, we did a skype call with the poet Mike Fisher.  We’re illustrating some of his poems and we managed to get him to agree to a skype call.The first person he talked to was Orli because she was the introducer.  Everyone had different jobs.  Evan was our transitioner, so he introduced everybody.(except Orli) Zach M. and Noah were our tweeters. Ayden Eliana, and Ariella were working on notetaking on a Google Doc.  Jagger was the photographer. Jeremy and Griff were bloggers. He answered some of our questions like,  “Why is the O poem in the shape of an O?”  We learned that the reason the O poem is in the shape of an O is because it was a suggestion from one of his high school teachers. Next, we learned some interesting facts about Mr.Fisher,  including he lives in Buffalo, New York which is five minutes away from Niagara Falls.  He also is writing a mystery novel for young adults.  Our whole class learned a few new words including: collaborationcryptic, and emphatic.  We learned a lot about our poems and Mike Fisher.  Have you ever created a poem?  This is just the beginning.  We have to market!  We have to publish!  We have to find out how much we will make!  All of this is going to be hard, but it’s going to be worth it in the end.

We still have many decisions to make.  

  • What should we name our book?  
  • How should we design the cover?  
  • What would be a reasonable price?  
  • Please respond and give us some feedback.